document : Early Bird gets the Safety Worm

Early Bird gets the Safety Worm
information supplied by: Bridgestone South Africa 06 March 2013

It seems like Christmas was just yesterday, but now we're less than a month from Easter, and Bridgestone is advising motorists to get their cars' safety checks done early before heading for their Easter break.

“Many motorists get so caught up in the mad rush to get their work priorities straight ahead of Easter that they don't make time to ensure their cars will take them on holiday safely,” said Bridgestone PR Manager, Mandy Lovell. “Why not make an appointment with your local fitment centre now, to check that your car is all in order ahead of the Easter break,” she suggested.

Easter is a time when the holiday is just long enough to tempt people to nip off to Durban or the Drakensberg, with hardier souls even eyeing the Cape as a destination. But with the last vehicle safety check probably having been done almost four months ago, prior to the December holidays, it can be easy to overlook what could have gone wrong in the time being.

Tyres, for instance, could have covered an extra six to ten thousand kilometres, meaning that the 'borderline' tread left on your car's tyres in December may now be in need of replacement. Remember that just because the tyres aren't quite at the legal limit doesn't mean they'll be safe in a sudden downpour – any tyre with less than 3mm of tread left is generally unable to disperse water rapidly enough to prevent aquaplaning at typical cruising speeds once the road becomes waterlogged.

And what about your brakes? How far were they worn before Christmas, and how much more have they worn since? Get a specialist to check them! The same goes for shock absorbers. When they deteriorate, it often happens so slowly that we don't notice, until one day sudden braking or swerving is required and the car just doesn't respond properly. Rather get an expert to check your shocks instead of waiting to find out the hard way that they're shot.

Don't forget your windscreen wipers either - they deteriorate rapidly in South Africa's harsh sun. March is still a sitting target for a late Highveld thunderstorm, or perhaps an early shower in the Winter rainfall areas of the country, and a sudden downpour isn't the time to discover that your wipers have perished and no longer clear the screen effectively.

And of course, there are those other checks which frequently get overlooked like checking the battery water if your battery isn't the sealed type, filling up the windscreen washer bottle, and checking that all is well under the bonnet, especially the drive belts, coolant, engine oil and brake fluid.

“It costs so little to have a basic safety check done,” said Lovell, “It really is worth your while to get a specialist to look over your vehicle, so do it now while there's plenty of time,” she advised. “More than two hundred people died on our roads in Easter 2012 – make sure you keep your name off the 2013 list,” she concluded.


Remember to take your car for a safety check before the Easter holiday to reduce your chances of mechanical failure or breakdown.

If your tyres are worn below 3mm, replace them to ensure that they will be able to disperse water on the road in wet weather.

Have your brakes checked every six months or so to ensure there's still enough friction material left to give you safe stopping.

Windscreen wipers only have a lifetime of 12 to 18 months in South Africa's harsh sun. Check yours to ensure they work properly.

Don't forget to check under the bonnet regularly: coolant, water, battery, brake fluid, power steering fluid and windscreen washer fluid.
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